Orbital SanderThis sander is also known as the finishing sander. It uses a fraction (¼,⅓, or ½) of a 9" x 11" sheet of regular sandpaper that is held by clamps. It's sanding area is shaped like a square which makes it perfect for getting into corners and against straight edges.
Bosch GSS20-40 ¼ Sheet Orbital Finishing Sander
They are not to be used on very rough surfaces because they aren't very aggressive, so the sandpaper might tear. Orbital sanders are easy to control and it's difficult to damage a surface using it, this is because 'over-sanding' with it is nearly impossible, unless you hold it in one place and intentionally try to. This sander is great for in-between coats of paint or finishing wood. One common complaint about using an orbital sander is the sanding marks that it leaves behind, this is because the sander rotates in tiny circles at a high speed and can cause swirly lines on the surface. It's best used with an extremely high grit sandpaper to create the smoothest and softest finish.
The orbital sander is usually cheaper than the random orbit sander at about $40 - $100.
Random Orbit Sander
Now, on to the random orbit sander. This sander uses two types of discs: the hook and loop disc or pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) disc. These discs are much easier to install than sandpaper as used by the orbital disc, they are also longer lasting. The random orbit sander is shaped in a circle, so it unfortunately does not fit in corners. This disadvantage is made up for by it's ability to sand down a lot more material than the orbital sander. That's right, this sander can be used on a rough surface and still do a great job. It's actually a prep sander (that can also be used for finishing with less pressure and finer grit discs), so it's ideal for taking off layers of rough material.
The random orbit sander vibrates less and has great dust collection, making it easier on the person using it.
It does not leave sanding marks on the wood because of it's random, multi-directional sanding pattern. The discs moves by spinning and also oscillating at the same time in unique directions.
The random orbital sander is more expensive at about $60 - $300+.
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